Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Diana Butler Bass, "Reframing as Spiritual Change"

My friend and former professor, Diana Butler Bass, has done some wonderful work of late analyzing mainline Protestant congregations that are thriving. She has a wonderful way to chart a vision that transcends the fallacies of either/or thinking that can tend to dominate discussions of religion (and politics!). She wrote a piece some time ago that offers up some interesting and helpful ways of seeing beyond the standard dichotomies of liberal and conservative, of orthodox and heterodox, of evangelical and progressive. It is a good read, and I've quoted just a bit below:

~ Rev. Peter M. Carey

Diana Butler Bass, "Reframing as Spiritual Change" posted at the Alban Roundtable, HERE

...Lately, I have been thinking a lot about denominations, conflict, and change. This may be due to the fact that I am an Episcopalian and my church is struggling right now over the issue of homosexuality. Recently, I lunched with a friend who is a priest. We talked about the pain of the last two years—the time since the Diocese of New Hampshire elected Gene Robinson, a priest living in a faithful, same-sex partnership, to be its bishop. “You know, I think the church handled this all very poorly,” my friend said. “Right after the vote, everyone who disagreed with Robinson’s election was all over the media, protesting, holding press conferences. Those who agreed kept saying ‘no comment, no comment.’ The church, as a whole, had no story to tell. Interest groups and individuals had stories. Those who were mad at the church had a story. But the church had no story.”

I looked at her in amazement. She was right. We had become, in effect, a church with no story to tell. Or, worse still, we had a story, but we failed to tell it. We let others tell it for us. In the absence of story, conflict grew, divides deepened, and those who had stories to begin with set the larger framework for storytelling. The church—as a whole—has spent much of the last two years responding to someone else’s story, entering into the worldview created by someone else’s language and definitions, arguing within a framework that does not carry the spiritual realities of original events...

Read it all HERE

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